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First Thoughts

Trusting God in the Wake of Health Issues

Over the past few years, God has sought ways to get my attention. I am one who seeks to be always positive and congenial, always seeking to find the best in the situation with which I am faced. Over the last ten years, we as a church have sought to provide Biblical counsel to those we shepherd, along with intense discipleship for those who present themselves to us from other churches.

During these years, I have been challenged to look within my heart to see what I can decipher as the “heart themes” that I deal with concerning desires, emotions, wants, drives, and, ultimately, idols. I have discovered in those teachable moments that control is the overarching heart theme that God desires to change in me so that I can trust him more fully. I have discovered that I really do not want to have to deal with the health issues that have come my way.

Some of those are multiple knee surgeries, a knee replacement and then a re-replacement when it got infected, a stomach surgery, hernia surgery, surgery to remove prostate cancer, and now a recurrence of the prostate cancer even though I don’t have a prostate any longer! Before you feel sorry for my sweet wife or me, let me let you in on what my controlling heart has learned in all of this: God is in control, and I can trust in him!

When my mother was told that she had ovarian cancer in 2007, the next day, she pointed me to a verse that she said would be our verse while we walked the walk with the Lord in her cancer. She lived another 2 ½ years, and every day we would say Psalm 56:3-4. This is what God says to us there,

“When I am afraid (we could also insert anxious here), I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.”

In all these health circumstances, God has taught me a few unbelievably valuable lessons I would like to share with you in case you are in the valley of health situations or love someone who is in those valleys:

  1. You can trust God. He is the one who made you in your mother’s womb. He loves you and knows you intimately. Psalm 139:13-16 tells us all about how God created us and even set the date when our days here on earth would be completed.
  2. His grace is sufficient for you. His will is always best. Philippians 1:6 says, “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
  3. Sorrow isn’t automatically sinful. Just because you are trusting God does not mean you have to be jumping up and down with happiness. Think of all those in the Bible who were committed to following the will of the Lord but were not “laughing” about it…Samson, David, Paul, Job, Naomi, Lydia, and even our Lord Jesus Christ prayed in distress to see if the Father could see any other way through this.
  4. God gives wisdom. Listen to the medical personnel as they seek to treat you and ask God for wisdom to make the decisions that he would have you make for his glory and your good. Jesus Christ is the Great Physician, and we can trust him to give us the guidance we need concerning our health decisions.
  5. God can heal. It is not wrong to pray for God’s will to remove cancer (or other health struggles from your life). God is still in the business of healing our diseases! He is our Jehovah-Rapha! In Matthew 4:23, we see that “Jesus was going all over Galilee…healing every disease and sickness among the people.”
  6. Remember that you are not facing this trial alone. You have Jesus with you. He knows you intimately more than any person because he created you. You can call on him because he is as close as a brother to you. Our Sunday School class and personal friends here in our church have walked through all these struggles with us, so do not be afraid to reach out to those who are in your sphere of influence here. We are family. God tells us in Galatians 6:2, “carry one another’s burdens, in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

When you face these trials concerning your health, please also reach out to the Pastoral Care office at First Baptist so we can pray with you at the hospital or wherever you need us. God has given you a family and wants you to be ministered to in the wave of your health circumstances.

Recommended Resources:

Help! Someone I Love Has Cancer by Deborah Howard

Every Moment Holy, Volume 2: Death, Grief, & Hope by Douglas Kaine McKelvey

Steve Clifton is the Pastor of Care and Discipleship and has served First Baptist Church of Jacksonville since 1996 in a variety of pastoral positions. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Church Music Performance from Arkansas State University in 1983 and completed post-graduate work in the field of Christian Education. He became certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors in 2017 and earned a specialization in addictions counseling in 2021.

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